Monday, April 07, 2008

China exports oppression II

I've already blogged about the Olympic torch's tumultuous journey through London amid an army of bodyguards and police. I had the impression that the UK police had been relatively good - sure, they'd grab anyone who leapt out at the torch or deliberately got in its way, but those who merely waved banners and shouted from the sidelines were left alone. It turns out I was wrong:

Before the torch arrived police circulated among Tibetan demonstrators ordering them to remove T-shirts and confiscating Tibetan flags in an apparent breach of a promise from Met commanders that police would not intervene to prevent embarrassment to Beijing.

Yonten Ngama, a Tibetan who has been resident in the UK for four years, was ordered to remove a T-shirt scrawled with three slogans, 'China Stop the Killing', 'No Torch in Tibet' and 'Talk to the Dalai Lama'. "They didn't tell me why, they just said I couldn't wear it," he said. Police on the ground declined to comment on the reasons for confiscating the T-shirt.

So, in order to protect China's image, the UK police turned part of London into a little bit of Tiananmen Square, in gross violation of UK law and its obligations under the ECHR. So much for "British liberty" and that long tradition of freedom of speech.